The Cruelty of a Woman

Lady, you are the cruel’st she alive
If you will lead these graces to the grave
And leave the world no copy.
– (Viola to Olivia, Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, or What You Will, Act 1 Scene 5 lines 236-238)

I used to believe that the cruelest she alive was Jessica Diaz. She wasn’t the meanest, prettiest, smartest, or most popular girl in school. In fact, she was quite ordinary in nature. What made her standout was the fact that she was arguably one of the wealthiest girls and definitely one of the most outspoken girls at school. Granted her wealth was relative because we lived in a neighborhood where most parents worked two jobs to make ends meet and the picket fences were often missing spikes. But that didn’t stop Jessica. Her braces-laced smile always charmed and stung as she saw fit. Because of that, boys saw her as a trophy to be won.

For reasons unknown no one warned Mauro that Jessica was not the type of conquest you set out to make for a serious matter of the heart. It wasn’t that Jessica wasn’t worthy of such devotion; rather, it was the fact that her ego had been conditioned to accept nothing but the most insincere flattery and gaudy demonstrations of servitude. Continue reading

How It All Began

I like to believe that the beginning was marked by a glorious day with singing larks, golden rays, a sky so blue, and leaves so green that it made you think that it was the stuff of dreams and fantasy.  But it was not.  It was nothing more than an ordinary day, with ordinary weather, ordinary colors, and the numb bustling of everyday life.

I do not know why it happened that day.  After all, I had seen him week after week in the same white uniform and blue belt, sparring endlessly first with friends, later with worthier opponents, and not infrequently as a means to impress those who were watching from the sidelines.  I had practiced with him, too, but he was not impressed with my mediocre attempts and I had no intention of challenging his assessment of my abilities.  At least not until that day.

As always, my dad dropped off the three of us in front of the dojo.  My sister had a handful of coloring books that she never opened in her earnest absorption of the attending mothers’ gossip.  My brother walked silently towards the entrance with a solemn intensity in his eyes that later become a defining characteristic of his persona.  I walked behind them all and, for the millionth time, wondered why I had agreed to take karate lessons.  I was mortified by the possibility that someone from school would discover that I, the same girl who could not catch or throw a ball, climb a tree, play tetherball, or dribble a ball, was the same girl who was taking karate lessons.  I sighed, tugged my jacket, and whispered a silent prayer that Sensei would not make us practice summersaults.  Of all things related to my karate lessons, the thing I dreaded most were summersaults.  Every time we practiced them I feared that during one of those cumbersome and inefficient defense moves, I would break my neck and die in a most embarrassing rolled-up, tangled heap.  Unfortunately, Sensei did not share my fear.

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